BPAC encourages cyclists to be SMART 



The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) issued a public service announcement around the Island to encourage cyclists to ride SMART, and create awareness among the biking and motorist community of the Island as a destination for recreational cyclists of all abilities. 

BPAC is a subcommittee of the joint transportation committee, falling under the larger umbrella of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. The MVC helps with the planning and development of BPAC projects, supported by a behind-the-scenes team of design professionals who helped come up with SMART (Stay alert, Maintain space, Act safely and predictably, Respect the rules of the road, Think ahead and talk). BPAC is made up of volunteers who work to provide representation for each town on the Island, Aquinnah being the only one currently without a member on the committee. 

Rich DeWitt, BPAC chair, told The Times about the escalating bicycle- and pedestrian-related issues emerging and worsening on-Island as a result of road and bike path infrastructure and speed. DeWitt also spoke to the lack of well-connected bike paths that cover a total of 44 miles between six island towns, which is made worse by narrow road ways with little to no shoulder, especially up-Island.
In 2021, the Steamship Authority sold 28,769 bicycle ferry tickets on the Vineyard route from Woods Hole, according to SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll. Additionally, bike touring companies, such as Backroads and Vermont Bike Tours bring groups to the Island. In recent years, there is also the emerging issue of electric bikes, as they are now available to rent on the Island, and have become a more popular transportation method for commuters across Massachusetts. As more cyclists arrive on the Island, in time for busy summer crowds, DeWitt explains that encouragement of safe practices and recognition of Massachusetts laws that govern a shared road experience on-Island is important.

BPAC hopes Martha’s Vineyard can be recognized as bicycle-friendly for the cyclist and motorist community. As DeWitt said about BPAC, “We are a committee of biking enthusiasts, so we think of ourselves as advocates for the biking and pedestrian experience.” Thus, the BPAC public service announcement serves as a way to reach out to the cyclist community directly in an attempt to reduce bike and pedestrian accidents from the walker or cyclist, not solely through reconstruction projects.
The PSA was printed by Tisbury Printing, and has been distributed to bike shops around the Island. An online version was also posted to Facebook in the Cycling Club of Martha’s Vineyard group, with 600-plus members, and will appear as a full page in Vineyard Visitor, a publication aimed at tourists produced by The Times and distributed widely across the Island.


  1. A bicycle accident with a head injury happened on Tuesday afternoon the 28 in Tisbury involving an electric bike rider.

  2. As someone who rides my bike daily and drives a car I’d ask cyclists to stop when they encounter a stop sign for bikes. Those signs are where the bike path crosses a road. Over and over I see cyclists just ride right on through. Please don’t do that, running a stop sign is dangerous…whether you’ve got two or four wheels.

  3. Bikes are supposed to follow the same laws as cars do.
    Stop at stop signs & 4 way intersections, use hand signals, travel with traffic. Don’t go down one way streets against traffic, walk your bile, DON’T ride on the sidewalk!
    If you can’t follow basic rules, don’t ride a bike.

  4. Could there be more information pertaining to bicycles riding in the same direction as the automobiles? Many bicycles ride the wrong way on one-way streets also. Another issue is that bicycles ride on sidewalks in towns. If bike riders knew the laws, safety would increase

  5. Shelly– You are absolutely correct about everything you say–police take notice.
    So here is the rationale for riding with traffic.
    First, drivers of vehicles do not expect anyone to be coming from the wrong direction. It’s much easier to miss what you don’t expect to see.
    It’s crazy dangerous to make a right hand turn if you are going against traffic. You have to cross 2 lanes of active traffic,–one of which you will have to be in the lane facing head on traffic. You would also have to look over your right shoulder to see what is in the other lane.
    But I think speed is the most critical factor.
    Lets say you are on a bike doing 12 mph and a car is coming towards you at 35 –you are closing on each other at 47 mph.
    If you are riding with traffic at 12 mph and a car is doing 35, you are closing on each other at only 23 mph. Half the speed. This allows for more reaction time, especially if the car is following a large truck for instance. The oncoming bike is invisible until it passes the truck . At a closing speed of 47 mph there is no time to react. If a bike and a car collide head on the cyclist is more likely to go through the windshield. It’s just nastier all around.

    By the way, I personally think a mirror of some sort should be mandatory for bikes.
    Lighting at night also.

    Thank you to the town or state or whoever for the shared use path on beach rd.

    Be careful–

  6. Thanks BPAC for your work!

    As a daily rider, I appreciate that the vast majority of motorists on MV are courteous and conscious of cyclists & pedestrians.

    A common situation that worries me is when a car/truck arrives at a main road from a side road. When there is a bike path, it often crosses exactly where a motorist would want to be, in order to turn onto the main road, and it’s harder to see bikes/peds due to positioning and now greenery. Please be watchful and patient here! Anticipate that someone on a bike or on foot may be about to cross in front of you.

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